A Rewarding Nursing Career: Military Spouse Edition

A Rewarding Nursing Career: Military Spouse Edition

Navigating being a military spouse and having a successful nursing career is not a feat for the weak. It’s a life of traveling the world, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, eating new foods, moving every 2-3 years, and having that ‘one’ pile of boxes in the garage that has faithfully traveled the globe with you. Or having unique characters packing and unpacking your household goods at each location. And endless nurse stories and friends of all backgrounds who may or may not appreciate them.

I’m here to tell you it is possible to have a rewarding nursing career and be a supportive military spouse/partner/parent at the same time! Here are some tips for navigating success.

Plan Ahead

Although some of my fellow milspo’s may be laughing at me right now, it does make a difference to plan when possible.

Google will be your best friend as you search for what healthcare facilities will be nearby. Look at nursing license requirements for the new location as soon as possible to ensure time for all the paperwork, fingerprinting, and other documents to be processed before the move (PS save all the receipts, you can write off the expenses at tax time).

I have found that certain facilities do not have a problem with hiring months in advance, while others only want to interview once you have arrived. There is no magic formula to this. It would help if you asked when you send in your resume or made it clear on the application when you are available to start.

Military Spouse Support System

Whether you must pay for the support or the PCS gods blessed you (or maybe not in some cases) with being near family who can help, you need to build a support system. This can include hiring babysitters, enrolling children in childcare when possible, signing up for an activity you enjoy, or something as simple as making friends in the neighborhood.

In my experience as a military spouse, having a support system or forcing yourself to make a support system once you arrive at a new location significantly boosts mental health while simultaneously increasing your goal success rate to maintain your career.

Opportunity is the Name of the Game

Nursing is so diverse, there are opportunities to be had with each military move.

If the thought has ever crossed your mind, “I don’t have enough experience from my last job,” no need to fret, friend. There are so many opportunities for nurses that do not require extensive experience.

It is scary starting over with new coworkers in a new location, but oh so worth it! Taking on a new experience is a step outside your comfort zone, but the benefits are great. Learning a new specialty can make a difference in others’ lives and boost self-esteem while adding diversity to your resume.

Great places to look for jobs with those who do not have years of experience include:

  • Outpatient clinics
  • Juvenile detention centers
  • Adult detention centers
  • Psychiatric clinics
  • Doing vaccinations at pharmacies

It does not hurt to apply if you are set on being in acute care. The worst that can happen is they say no. Also, remember, jobs come in all shapes and sizes, including part-time, per diem, on-call, and shifts with various hours.

Practice Interviewing

Practice how you will appear and sound in your interview, whether with your furry friend, best friend (human) or in the mirror. Most interviews are taking place via Zoom, or some online portal now, so be ready to have a quiet space and a good connection. Make sure you dress as if you were interviewing in person (at least from the top up), and remember to smile. In my most recent nursing interviews, I found that most questions were not nursing clinical related but more directed towards how you interact with patients and other staff. Again, this is my experience, but something to brainstorm before your big interview!

Be Positive

You are important if you possess ten credentials and letters behind your name or just one. You can positively influence a variety of human beings in a multitude of settings with your nursing degree. It is easy to become overwhelmed with change, especially a big move and all that comes with it but embrace the change and use it to explore the world of nursing in different locations. Be positive and remind yourself you are not alone!